If a kid doesn’t aspire to be something that society deems ‘incredible’, then the
chap is already made to feel like a loser.
The contemporary trend in education is to tell each and every child that they can be a lawyer, a surgeon, an astronaut – they just have to put their mind to it and work hard and they can be really, really smart and make lots and lots of money and live happily ever after. And not only can they, but they have to.
If you have a class of thirty students, I’d give my left ball that all 30 have them have the mental capacity to become a lawyer. There is no way that all of them have even the basic math skills to balance their own checkbook or make change for a thirty-seven-rupee purchase – you think they can handle calculus needed to become an astrophysicist?
Whatever happened to learning a trade? Apprenticeships? Real-life mentors?
Little Smitesh, struggling to stay on top of things in the front row of geometry class, is the son of a mechanic. He grew up in his father’s garage, watching his dad fix everything from Enflelds to Mercedes SUV s. His father has taught him everything he knows: how to grease up a stuck piston, change a brake pad, replace a gearbox … All this comes naturally to Smitesh. He can’t tell you the difference between protoplasm and cytoplasm (trick question), but he can tell as soon as a car pulls into the garage that the tensioner pulley needs to be adjusted.
He enjoys working on cars. He’s proud of his dad. Nothing will make this boy happier than taking over the garage.
But, since the time he was in the first standard, his teachers told him, “Smitesh, if you study hard, if you pass all these tests, then you can be whatever you want to be! Imagine, you don’t have to be stuck in a garage all your life, fixing other people’s cars. You can be a doctor and save lives, or be a travelling salesman for a pharmaceutical company, or, even (gasp!), earn an honest living by serving the government. Reach for the stars, Smitesh!” If a kid doesn’t aspire to be something that society deems ‘incredible’, then the chap is already made to feel like a loser. Why force little Smitesh to believe that his own world is not big enough? Why should he make society proud? Why should he make his dad proud?
Let him be a mechanic. The world needs mechanics. Who’s going to fix your f?@king Bentley when it breaks down on Marine Drive on the way to your golf game? Primary school is not so much about education. It’s about teaching discipline. Ideally, schools will have exposed students to a wide variety of professions and areas of further study. But with so much focus on passing standardized tests and determining IQ levels, I have a feeling not enough of that is happening.
So, if you are still in the tenth or eleventh grade and were able to sneak a copy of this writing from your elder cousin, then I just want to tell you that there are so many other careers that you can pursue, besides what they tell you. Science, engineering, medicine, accounting and law are not the only respectable professions. There are a zillion other options.
Do some research! The best thing is to do some shadOwing. If being a dietician sounds interesting, but you’re not really sure, then fmd a dietician and follow him or her around for a few days. India could certainly use some more people who care about what we eat and work towards reducing diabetes. If your heart has been set on becoming a veterinarian since you were a little girl, then spend a week in your local vet’s office, and make sure that someday you’ll be able to stick your entire arm up a cow’s hoo-hoo if a calf gets stuck during delivery. India still doesn’t have a globally recognized fashion designer.
Our Bollywood hair and make-up artists can’t compete with Hollywood standards. Yet. Oooh, you know what India could really use? Some urban planners! And some soil biotechnology sewage technicians (first developed at lIT Bombay). Any takers?